The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland (ACP) has declared that given the difficulties and many rules involved in opening churches for Mass and keeping congregations safe, this is an unbearable responsibility for too many priests.
In some cases the ACP says that priests are being ‘manipulated’ and ‘bullied’ into assuming a responsibility that is simply unfair.
Instead, the ACP argues, this responsibility should be given to Parish Pastoral Councils or ‘a designated Parish Committee’.
See: ACP Statement on the re-introduction of Public Masses
On October 1st, 2019, this organisation, the Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI), reported to Irish Bishops that the association’s own pilot research study suggested that less than one fifth of Irish parishes had effective working PPCs. ACI called on the Irish Conference of Bishops to conduct a survey to establish a complete and accurate picture of the true situation. We have not yet received a response to our submissions.ACI Submission to Irish Bishops Conference 01/10/2019
Covid-19 never ceases to amaze in its ability to make the impossible, possible. Could it now be responsible for lay executive decision making powers being given to parish pastoral councils (although a bit of a poisoned chalice in the current context)?
The complaint in the above ACP statement is a problem that has, at last, come home to roost in many Irish parishes, as recent research by ACI has clearly revealed. Now that there is hard work to be done parish priests have discovered the necessity of having a committed and representative lay pastoral/parish council with real and effective power. That is a situation that should have been recognised and put right at national, diocesan and parish levels many decades ago.